For some strange reason I’ve had less time to go to the Decoy Hide recently – but Jen allows me a little self-indulgence once in a while!
This photo summarises the last couple of months on the lake. I was concentrating on the little egret, before it was photobombed by a grebe carrying fish for its chick!
For once I had the sense to follow the grebe and was rewarded by one of my better feeding sequences.
Meanwhile I was less successful with the little egret photos because I kept on over-exposing – a flaw in a number of my photos this time!
If you’ve ever tried to have a quiet romantic moment with your spouse and then one of your kids bursts in, you’ll feel some sympathy with one of the grebe pairs. They were going through a courtship ritual – in itself very unusual for midsummer, which made me wonder whether they were thinking of a second brood – only to be interrupted by little ‘un clearly wondering what on earth they were up to!
Feeding the chicks was the consistent theme throughout the last couple of months – the only difference being the size of the chicks. However there has also been a change in the numbers of chicks: both of the closer pairs started with three but by mid-July were down to two, which conveniently meant that each parent could focus on one chick. The number of herons and egrets around makes me suspect the fate of the other chicks.
The third pair at the far end of the lake finally had chicks around the beginning of July – but I never saw them afterwards. Given the size of the lake I may simply not have seen them, but as I saw the parents a few times, I fear the herons may have had their way.
By mid-August there was only one nearly adult-sized chick left. This could mean one of two things: it could have been a disastrous few weeks for the grebes,or the bigger chicks may have flown elsewhere. I don’t know enough about grebe chicks to know when they disperse – but as they were already easily old enough to dive for protection some while back I am less sure they were gobbled up. In my experience grebes rarely fly, but of the five grebe flights I’ve seen this year, four were on my trip to the lake last week – which leads me to think that the older chicks may just have taken wing and dispersed.
One of my bogey birds, photographically, has been the great white egrets – which are large enough to seem easy to get. My luck changed at the end of June, though, when one arrived close to the hide and started hunting.
Last week an immature egret showed up close to the hide as well (which you can tell by the all-yellow bill).
Finally, a non-bird… I tend not to concentrate on the abundant dragon-flies, but this four-spot chaser perched on a reed very close by.